Previewing Karl Barth and Thomas Aquinas on Analogy

Jim Cassidy previews his address at the 2018 Reformed Forum conference by speaking about Barth on the analogy of being and the analogy of faith and how his views relate to the theology of Thomas Aquinas.

Jim and Camden also speak about Barth’s views of natural theology and how they relate to the views of Cornelius Van Til. This is in response to recent remarks from Dr. Michael Allen on the Credo Magazine podcast (around minute 37). If you’d like to jump directly to that portion of our discussion, you can watch it on YouTube.

Participants: ,

Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.

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Brian Collins

1 year ago

I came across this by Richard Gaffin just before listening to this episode:
“The prevailing reading of that history today—namely, that seventeenth-century Reformed and Lutheran orthodoxy is an abandonment of the Reformation that prepares the way for the Enlightenment and then Liberalism (until all has been made better by Karl Barth cum suis)—is a gross distortion. It does, however, contain a significant germ of truth. The increasing preoccupation of orthodox dogmatics with natural theology, particularly after Descartes, worked to undermine that orthodoxy and aided the rise of the very rationalism it was opposing. The tension is there, for instance, in Francis Turretin on the role of reason in theology. And the outcome—a permanent lesson that we miss to our theological peril—is the startling swiftness with which in the span of a single generation at the Academy in Geneva, from Turretin father to son, Reformed orthodoxy was virtually displaced and rendered impotent in the face of a frank rationalism, bordering on Socinianism, that was quick to follow. By now, too, we should have learned: natural theology may have a place in Roman Catholic and Arminian theologies—with their semi-Pelagian anthropologies and qualified optimism about the unbeliever’s capacity to know God—but not in a theology that would be Reformed.”
Richard B. Gaffin Jr., “Some Epistemological Reflections on 1 Cor 2:6–16,” Westminster Theological Journal 57, no. 1 (1995): 123-24 (Jeffrey Jue’s essay in Revelation and Reason seems to have a more positive view of F. Turretin and argues that Van Til’s view of natural theology was similar to that of Turretin and Junias).

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I understand Van Til to affirm natural revelation but to deny natural theology if that means doing theology apart from special revelation (Van Til, IST, 136).

Donald Frank

11 months ago

I just listened to this episode, so am commenting very late in the game. I am no theological scholar, but I have been reading Barth’s CD for about 2 years. I may not be fully appreciating your concerns about his theology, but as I listened to the episode, several responses to your criticisms came to my mind. So I wonder if I am overlooking some theological nuance that would discredit my appreciation of Barth.

Regarding Barth’s ontological view of man as bordering on divine because of his participation with God or, as Barth puts it, God’s covenant partner, I don’t see how Barth would characterize that participation as ontological. In fact, it seems to me that Barth goes overboard in denying any ontological similarity, stressing instead God’s freedom in graciously entering into a unilateral covenant with man as revealed in the three-form Word of God (witness, scripture and proclamation). According to Barth, man’s contact with God is through Christ and only as Christ is human (equated with the Word of God) that man by the power of the Holy Spirit can respond in acceptance as God’s covenant partner.

Regarding universalism, Barth acknowledges that man is also capable of rejecting covenant partnership. Though Christ has assumed all humanity, the mystery of the power of sin is such that man may resist the Holy Spirit, contra irresistible grace.

I would be interested in better understanding how this view might cause theological problems. Thanks for everything you are doing to advance sound theological thinking.



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